The Key Elements Of Tne Advocacy Letter
When the topic of social justice arises, a wide array of issues come to mind. As social workers we must be able to analyze broad topics and pinpoint the underlying causes that contribute to the overall injustices that an individual or community are facing. By doing this, social workers can pinpoint one specific area in order to gather and obtain detailed information that will help them come up with the best possible course of action.
In my advocacy letter I will be discussing Aboriginal issues. However, there are many factors that contribute to their overall being such as poverty, poor health care, employment barriers, and education to name a few. I have chosen to focus primarily on education, making it easier to centre my message directly on this topic. The first key element in an advocacy letter is to clearly define the issue to the target audience (Hoefer, pp. 52, 2006). Many times, it is easy to over look this simple task simply because we get the irresistible urge to move straight to action so as to not allow a bad situation to continue any longer than necessary (Hoefer, 2006).
Defining the issue provides you with your own sense of understanding and your audience receives a clear message of what you wish to specifically address. Another key element is keeping your message organized and structured. Having a poorly organized advocacy letter may draw attention away from the purpose of your letter. It is important to make smooth transitions from one point to the other, or from one paragraph to the next. For example, after defining your issue, you can smoothly transition into background information. Another key element here is to incorporate facts, statistics, evidence and relevant information.
On a website called Palliative Manitoba, it backs up the idea of using facts for effective advocacy because facts carry more weight than anecdotal evidence (n.d.). For example, when the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) was published, there were 94 calls to action, several being centred around education. Number 63 called upon the council of Ministers of Education to develop and implement indigenous curriculum and identify teacher-training needs (Northern Affairs Canada, 2018). This shows your audience two things, one that you are knowledgeable on the issue, and two it makes them aware of the facts, something they cannot run away from. However, it is important to not stray out of topic so as to ensure logical consistency in the material (Hoefer, pp.103, 2006).
Now, before moving on to outline your plan of action, an important key element is knowing who your target audience is. Knowing who your target audience is can help you gain a good understanding of how to influence them and tailor your message for the greatest impact (Harrison, n.d.). This will also help you determine to what extent they are able to help implement your changes. It would be useless to try and convince someone that there are certain changes that should be implemented when there is so little they can do. My letter will be addressed to the Premier of Ontario, Doug Ford. Given his title and the kind of power that comes with it, I am confident that he can become a man of action and implement the changes I am advocating for.
Next, a crucial key element is outlining your goals. Goals such as what it is that you want to change, whether it be changes in policy, programs or funding and how you plan to make this happen. You can then support your goals by explaining what resources you will be using or what strategies you have created to help you get to where you want to be. For example, if the Ministry of Education is lacking funds, then we can reach out to other organizations funded by the Ontario government and ask them for their support. Another key element is persuasion. In Chapter 6 of the book Advocacy Practice for Social Justice, Richard Hoefer defines persuasion as being able to get the other party to do what you want, while they also get what they want.
By listing the benefits of revising indigenous curriculum, I can appeal to my audience’s self-interest. The benefits of incorporating indigenous curriculum in the education system and equipping teachers with the right resources to teach the curriculum would reach out to not only indigenous people, but non-indigenous who will become critically aware of history and will develop a sense of understanding and acceptance of indigenous culture. Moreover, it would keep Canada on the right path of reconciliation with the indigenous community. Another method of persuasion would be by framing. One way to frame an issue is using the approach, “after what they’ve gone through, they deserve it”. It is said that people who have nature to blame for a calamity, and others who have nature to blame for a calamity, and others who have had ill luck may find this approach to be a powerful claim (Hoefer,2006).
By using this approach in my letter, I can appeal to the Premier’s sense of compassion and possibly arise feelings of guilt that would push him to take action. After much research, an advocacy letter has multiple key elements that contribute to its overall effectiveness. You must be able to clearly define your issue and maintain your message organized and structured. Incorporating facts, evidence and relevant information supports and strengthens your stance while knowing your audience will help you tailor your message and determine their level of power for change. One of the most important key elements is outlining your goals and explaining what resources, approaches and strategies you will take on. While doing so, it is vital that you use persuasion to appeal to your audience’s sense of compassion or self-interest by framing your issue and listing the benefits your plan of action would have for everyone involved. Overall, an effect advocacy letter is clear, concise and straight to the point.
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